Tag Archives: mental health

Norman Lamb on why improving mental health care is so important to him

This interview with Norman Lamb in the Telegraph.

In it, he talks about why he is so motivated to change mental health care. We knew about how he and his wife Mary have supported their son Archie through battles with OCD and, for the first time, he talks about losing his sister Catherine to suicide last year.

Anyone who has gone through those sorts of experiences, or who has tried to get treatment for mental ill health, will understand the frustrations that he describes and will understand how that drove him on to transform as much as he could while a Minister.

If you have no experience of this particular field, be in no doubt that he is telling the truth.

The Telegraph article has a letter from a 9 year old boy with Depression which was read on the Today programme. It’s horrible to think of a young child going through such pain at all, but when you think they may have to wait years for diagnosis and treatment, it makes you so angry. You need to think of the consequences of that. Think of the impact of a year, or even two years’ wait. Think how much worse a condition can get in that time. There is often no quick fix, either, so there’s more time trying to find something that works. By that time, you’re probably talking about between a quarter and a third of your years in education which have been dominated by ill health. Think of the knock-on effects on life chances, particularly if you are not from an affluent background. It truly is a scandal that we tolerate this as a society.

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Rennie calls for Minister for Mental Health

Willie Rennie and therapetWillie Rennie, seen here seemingly enacting a scene from Lady and the Tramp with a therapet during the election campaign, has called on Nicola Sturgeon to appoint a dedicated minister for mental health when the new Scottish government is announced next week.

A major part of the Liberal Democrat election campaign was a call for a step change in the way mental health services are supported.  Willie said that this appointment would send a clear message that the Scottish Government is taking mental health issues seriously:

Mental health spending has been cut as a share of the overall NHS budget every year since 2009 and too many young people still wait more than a year for urgent treatment.

Everywhere I went during the election people came up to me to say how important they felt it was to hear a political leader speaking out on mental health. It has been kept as a Cinderella service for too long.

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LibLink: David Laws – The road to student retention

David Laws has been writing for Times Higher Education focussing on the worrying number of disadvantaged students dropping out of higher education:

The UK government’s target to double the number of disadvantaged young people going to university by 2020 is laudable. Access to higher education offers a platform for young people to succeed and is central to establishing a meritocratic society.

Nevertheless, while access provides the foundations, it doesn’t build the house. If we’re really serious about meritocracy, we have to be ever vigilant about what happens to young people once they are at university too.

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Lamb says Tories failing on mental health waiting times

So, it didn’t take long for the Tories to apply the brakes to all the good work done on mental health by Norman Lamb and, before him, fellow Liberal Democrat Paul Burstow.

The Independent talks exclusively to Norman about what’s happening now he’s not there to drive things forward.

Norman Lamb, who served as the minister responsible for mental health in the Coalition government, said that vital new waiting-times targets for a range of mental health conditions including bipolar disorder and OCD “won’t happen” because the plans were not funded.

He also hit out at an NHS England decision to water down financial incentives for local health authorities to improve mental health services, and criticised “scandalously low” levels of funding for research into mental health conditions.

Mr Lamb, the Liberal Democrats’ health spokesperson and one of the country’s leading campaigners for improved mental health services, said that “all signs” pointed to “a continuing disadvantage for those who suffer from mental illness with no prospect of it ever changing”.

He told the paper:

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LibLink: Nick Clegg: We’ve made progress on mental health but there’s still work to do

Nick Clegg has written about mental health in today’s Evening Standard column.

One story illustrates different attitudes to physical and mental health:

A few years ago, I met a man called Robert at a mental health trust in Liverpool. He was in his sixties, well-dressed and with a neatly trimmed moustache that gave him something of the air of a Fifties provincial bank manager — not the image you normally associate with severe mental illness. He told me that a few years earlier he had been in hospital with a heart condition and, while he was there, he had been visited regularly by friends and family, sometimes three or four times a day. This outpouring of love was a great tonic for him as he recovered. But he was hospitalised on another occasion — this time for a mental health condition. During the five months he languished in hospital he was visited just three times. The contrast speaks volumes.

He talks about the work that the Liberal Democrats did government, and goes on to outline 3 new priorities for action:

The first is the way it is funded. Part of the reason that there have been cuts in mental health services despite the renewed focus from government is down to an important, if technical, discrepancy in the way they are paid for. A hospital, for example, is paid by activity: each procedure has a price attached to it and the more it performs the more money it gets. Mental health trusts, on the other hand, usually get a block grant. So when demand goes up, the money stays the same.

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Crisis mental health care in the NHS must improve

I was struck by a blog in my Facebook timeline this morning. It was actually written a year ago today by Becca Plenderleith, who joined the Lib Dems in the wake of the election last year. She’s already contributed so much to the Party, writing for our Scottish members’ newsletter, making thoughtful and insightful contributions on mental health – and she’s also written for LDV, too. We are very lucky to have her.

In the post she shared this morning, she shared her experience of what passes for mental health crisis care in Scotland – and it just simply is not good enough. The experience she had mirrors other people’s experiences. I have heard of Accident and Emergency doctors, who clearly have no training in mental health, berating a shut-down self-harming teenager and tell them that they are wasting their time.  In that example, when the Child and Adolescent Mental Health people got involved, things improved remarkably, but it should never have happened in the first place.

I am horrified that a young person in crisis could be treated in such a callous way. I’m quoting from Becca’s post here with her permission:

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Lib Dem parliamentarians mark #timetotalk day

Today has been Time to Talk day, Time for Change’s annual initiative to get more people to talk about mental health. It’s something we’ve done to great effect over the last couple of years. You can read the many moving and personal articles our readers have written here.

One Liberal Democrat parliamentarian who was definitely talking about mental health today was Welsh AM Eluned Parrott. She led a debate in the Senedd this afternoon.

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    Matthew Huntbach Unfortunately you do not seem to understand , I am defending the Liberal parties of the developing world being keener on more unregulated...
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    Thank you Katherine for a bit of honest passion. It's a welcome antidote to the evidence-based pragmatism that LibDems feel obliged to practise. For goodness...
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    TCO, I agree that there is incoherent anger and rage. There is also focused, rational, well-articulated anger. And that should go hand-in-hand with clear policy-making....
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